According to the Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University, “Islamophobia is prejudice towards or discrimination against Muslims due to their religion, or perceived religious, national, or ethnic identity associated with Islam.
“Like anti-Semitism, racism, and homophobia, Islamophobia describes mentalities and actions that demean an entire class of people.”
The Bridge Initiative also notes: “Rational criticism of Islam or Muslims based on factual evidence is not intrinsically Islamophobia…”
The issue of Islamophobia came up in this episode of Faithfully Podcast because of a recent panel discussion about ‘Muslims and the Media’ at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., that host Nicola Menzie attended.
One of the panelists, Dalia Mogahed, stated that Islamophobia hurts all Americans.
We live in a time in the United States when some Christians say they feel increasingly persecuted or marginalized because of their positions on certain issues, such as marriage and sexuality. In fact, LifeWay Research found in a 2015 survey that 63 percent of Americans either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that “Christians increasingly are confronted by intolerance in America today.” Self-identified Evangelical Protestants, in particular, were more likely to agree with that statement.
It is also worth noting that “43 percent of respondents felt that American Christians complain way too much about how they are treated.”
The Rev. Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham and perhaps one of the most influential Evangelical Christians today, has claimed, in an effort to rally the troops to keep praying for America, that “hostility toward Christians in the United States is on the rise and will grow unless we stand up for our freedoms of religion and conscience.”
Franklin Graham is perhaps one of Islam’s most vocal critics from the Evangelical camp and certainly critics would describe him as an Islamophobe. After all, Graham has gone on record describing Islam as a “very evil and wicked religion” and calling it “a false religion” — and this was before the emergence of ISIS.
How is it that members of a faith community who say they feel increasingly marginalized have no issues about marginalizing and demonizing members of another faith group — that is 3.3 million Americans who identify as Muslim?
In light of this question, Dalia Mogahed, who is Director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, was asked to explain why she believes Islamophobia hurts all Americans.
Here is what she said:
“There’s a number of ways that all Americans are impacted by Islamophobia. The first way is that it opens the psychological space for other kinds of bigotry, and the first being anti-Semitism. I know that Evangelicals are very concerned about anti-Semitism. Islamophobia is the partner of anti-Semitism. People who are anti-Semitic are 32 times more likely to also be anti-Muslim, so these two ailments are related.
“The second thing is it opens the door for other kinds of bigotry against other minorities. It has an overlap with anti-black, anti-Hispanic legislation and bigotry. It also overlaps with anti-immigrant sentiment.
“Finally, what I think is most important is it’s fueled by fear, and fear hurts freedom, fear kills freedom. Because when we’re afraid, on a neurological level, we’re more likely to accept conformity, prejudice and authoritarianism. So anyone who cares about their liberty, anyone who cares about religious freedom in America should oppose targeting one religious community for discrimination.”
Listen to the entire episode of Faithfully Podcast via SoundCloud.